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Tommy Bowden bests father again as Clemson downs Florida State

Sep 4, 2007 - 6:40 AM CLEMSON, South Carolina (Ticker) -- After the first few "Bowden Bowls", it appeared father, Bobby, knew best. Now, it looks like his son, Clemson coach Tommy, may have learned too much.

James Davis rushed for 98 yards and a touchdown and the Tigers held on after establishing a large early lead to down No. 19 Florida State, 24-18, on Monday.

The Seminoles won each of the first four meetings in this ACC rivalry since the Bowdens started competing against each other since Tommy Bowden became the Clemson coach in 1999, but the Tigers have prevailed in four of the last five, including each of the last three meetings.

Leading 7-0, Davis accounted for the second score of the game on a spectacular 29-yard run, just one play after Seminole wide receiver Preston Parker fumbled at the Florida St. 24-yard-line. Following a five-yard false start penalty, the 5-11, 205-pound running back started out to the right side of the field and broke away for the score after powering through a couple of tackles on his way to the end zone.

After allowing a 22-yard scramble from Florida St. quarterback Drew Weatherford on the first offensive snap of the contest, the Clemson defense did not allow another first down until the 8:30 mark of the third quarter. In all, the Tigers defense surrendered just 52 first-half yards in taking a 24-3 halftime lead.

"I have never been in a game like that. In the first half there was a lack of blocking and tackling," Florida State coach Bobby Bowden said. "We didn't block and we didn't tackle. They did block and they did tackle. So you have a 24-3 ball game."

However, the Seminoles played much more inspired in the second half, nearly doubling their first-half offensive output in the third quarter alone, when they posted 101 yards.

Still trailing, 24-3, near the end of the third quarter, the tide appeared to turn in the Seminoles' favor when Clemson long snapper Colin Leonard snapped the ball well over the head of punter Jimmy Maners.

After scooping up the loose ball some 30 yards behind the line of scrimmage, Maners alertly ran the ball the final 20-plus yards through the Clemson end zone for the safety, minimizing the potential damage to cut the Tigers advantage to 24-5.

After Antone Smith's one-yard score trimmed the Clemson lead to 24-11 with 46 seconds remaining in the third quarter, Weatherford capped off a seven-play, 32-yard drive in the next possession with a 15-yard scoring pass to Richard Goodman to cut the lead to 24-18 at 11:40 in the final quarter.

"Florida State is a good football team," Clemson coach Tommy Bowden said. "I knew they wouldn't quit and they could have easily folded. I give them a lot of credit."

However, the Tigers defense shut the door on Florida St. after that, forcing a three-and-out and stopping the Seminoles on a fourth-and-10 with just over two minutes remaining on the next possession. The Seminoles had one last opportunity with 29 seconds remaining, but Weatherford was sacked on first down and threw incomplete on the next two downs.

Weatherford finished 17-for-33 for 142 yards and a touchdown.

"He wasn't sharp and I was surprised," Bobby Bowden said of Weatherford. "He made some good plays. He had a lot of sacks and I don't know if he wasn't reading the right thing or if they just had a guy free and he couldn't get away from him."

Cullen Harper finished 14-for-24 for 160 yards and two touchdowns for the Tigers, becoming the first quarterback in school history to defeat a team rated in the top 20 in his first start.

"He had a lot of anxiety built up, but I thought he did a really good job tonight," Tommy Bowden said of Harper. "I was pleased with his performance and look for him to continue to improve."